These positions would be funded through the VISTA program and all compensation is through that program. Living allowances can be foundhere. More details on the VISTA program benefits can be found here.
We are welcoming anyone who is interested in this position to send us a resume and brief cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your interest. We are looking to fill this position ASAP – please don’t delay if you are interested.
The goal of the VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project (VAHPP) is to preserve, maintain, and improve project-based Section 8 affordable housing across the United States, and is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). The project’s sole grantee, Equal Justice Works manages 45 VISTA Members in the provision of capacity building services for HUD residents through legal support and community organizing. VAHPP offers a great national service opportunity for individuals interested in community lawyering, housing rights, and community development. Qualified candidates are paired with a host site which provides direct supervision for the member throughout their one-year term of service. VISTA members are also administered training and provided with technical assistance by Equal Justice Works and the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) throughout their Fellowships.
Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA) is a project working under Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) to support low-income Austin residents’ ability to access safe, decent, and affordable housing through a variety of modes of advocacy, including education, litigation, and empowerment strategies. We are tenant organizers, attorneys, and renters working together to ensure healthy, safe, and affordable housing for all.
BASTA works with renters to:
Form tenant associations
Facilitate meetings and trainings
Educate Austin tenants about their rights
Strategize to get landlords to address tenant concerns
The duties and activities of the VAHPP Community Organizer with BASTA include the following:
Visit Project-based Section 8 U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) – assisted properties and increase tenants’ knowledge of their rights, responsibilities, and options for preserving their homes and improving their communities.
Help residents organize to ensure that their property owners renew their Section 8 contracts to retain affordable housing for their community.
Assist residents in requesting repairs, meeting with property managers, and reporting substandard conditions, as needed, to Code enforcement. Monitor responsiveness and follow up as needed.
Develop additional, creative strategies and actions, as needed, to get property owners to make repairs, needed improvements.
Work with attorneys and to identify properties where litigation could be a useful strategy to effectuate repairs and help communicate with residents so that they can remain actively engaged in any initiated litigation.
Document outreach activities and compile data to track outcomes and efficacy of the project.
All other duties assigned
Bilingual in English and Spanish.
1+ years outreach and community engagement experience.
Dedication to economic, gender, social and racial justice.
Ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of people, including residents and property owners.
Strong organizational skills.
Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
Willingness to work a flexible schedule including some evenings and weekends.
Knowledge of housing issues and/or landlord-tenant law.
Personal experience with low-income housing.
Experience leading workshops and trainings.
Experience working with both conventional and social media.
Computer proficiency in Google Drive, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and willingness to develop additional skills. Knowledge of GIS a plus.
At-Risk Section 8 Properties:
The 1.7 million low-income households in privately-owned, HUD multifamily housing face serious risks of displacement. More than 200,000 families and elderly and/or disabled individuals live in buildings with expiring 40-year HUD subsidized mortgages, and several hundred thousand more are affected by Project-Based Section 8 contracts that will expire during the next five years.
The “expiring use” problem arises because the affordability of housing units receiving these subsidies is not permanently assured. The restrictions on rent levels, tenant eligibility, and overall operations only last for a specific time period. When the subsidies end or “expire,” owners of most buildings with HUD-subsidized mortgages are allowed to convert to market rate housing, and can often prepay the mortgage balance at an earlier date. Tenants are forced to relocate, usually with vouchers, and in a market of ever-shrinking affordable housing units.
Tenants in “expiring use” and other “at-risk” buildings also face challenges due to aging housing stock and frequently substandard management. In almost all HUD housing developments, tenants remain unorganized and unaware of their legal rights, and may experience intimidation and harassment by property managers or owners.
Once organized, however, tenants can influence owner decisions affecting the affordability of their homes, repairs, and upgrades. They also can advocate for HUD refinancing options, “green rehabilitation” programs, and the ability to participate in contract renewal programs when federal contracts end.
About Equal Justice Works:
The mission of Equal Justice Works is to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. We provide leadership to ensure a sustainable pipeline of talented and trained lawyers are involved in public service. Equal Justice Works provides a continuum of programs that begin with incoming law school students and extend into careers in the profession. We provide the nation’s leading public interest law Fellowship program and offer more postgraduate, full-time legal positions in public service than any other organization.
Equal Justice Works has been selected by CNCS as its Intermediary organization to administer the VAHPP program and comply with federal regulations. Equal Justice Works will also select legal host sites and train and support 15 VISTA attorneys placed with nonprofit legal service organizations.
National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT):
Founded in 1991, NAHT is the first national membership organization of resident groups advocating for 2.1 million lower income families in privately-owned, HUD-assisted multifamily housing. Through NAHT, tenants have proven that united action can mount an effective campaign to save people’s homes. For seven years, from 1995-2002, the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) initiated and coordinated a successful VISTA program in HUD multi-family housing. The program placed up to 60 VISTA organizers each year in local host sites, and at the conclusion of the project, reached 32 cities in 27 states. .NAHT VISTAs helped tenants form more than 520 tenant organizations that met HUD standards, including several that achieved resident ownership of their developments. With assistance from VISTAs, these tenant associations preserved or improved more than 70,000 at-risk HUD apartments, and trained tens of thousands of tenants on their rights.
Equal Justice Works has partnered with NAHT to select organizing host sites and to provide training and support for 33 VISTA organizers placed with 20 local nonprofit tenant assistance organizations.